As promised, its time to make your pick for the Kings’ 6th defenseman to start the year.

While there are still two more pre-season games to play, last night’s contest against the Ducks was our first opportunity to see Jacob Muzzin and Thomas Hickey play in the same game.

Before I taint you with my possibly errant opinions, lets get straight to the polls.

First, head-to-head breakdowns.

And finally, getting to the point, who makes the team?

Based on what I have seen in practice and in this last game, I have to give the nod to Muzzin right now.  It is interesting that Drewiske got paired with Hickey, since this could very well be the bottom pairing.  Though Muzzin gets the bigger minutes with Johnson.  Hard to tell if there is anything to read into there in Murray’s thinking, so I’m going to leave it at just giving Scuderi a rest for the sake of simplicity.

To my eyes, Muzzin was far more composed with the puck and generally in better position without it.  While Hickey had the flashier plays, in particular a fantastic stick check in the 2nd period, he also had by far the worse plays come off his stick.  It could be that Hickey-Drewiske is just a bad pairing.  Neither defensemen is a great skater or very fast, and neither is very physical.  Muzzin had the benefit of playing with the better defensemen, and while his offensive skills look limited next to Hickey’s, Muzzin showed some remarkable vision and adeptness at moving the puck up the ice.

One of the things I really liked about Muzzin was that he always stayed on the right side of the puck.  Hickey found himself on the wrong side a few times due to turnovers, over-handling and taking too much time to make a play on some occasions.  Muzzin had no qualms jumping up into the play, but he refused to let a forward get by him at the offensive blueline or in the neutral zone.  Some plays that jumped out at me were when Muzzin had his shots blocked, he immediately took the body to whoever blocked the shot, knocking them down and preventing a counter attack.

I did like much of what I saw from Hickey.  He showed himself to have the much higher upside to his game.  He just looks to me like he needs more seasoning against men, that his main issue was confidence level.  Muzzin, though coming straight from juniors, seemed more comfortable playing against the big boys.

All that said, while I would pick Muzzin to make the team right now, I think Hickey will rebound on Saturday in Vegas and/or Sunday in Anaheim (assuming he plays either or both of the games).  I also believe that if in Murray’s and Lombardi’s eyes the two 21-year old rearguards are on anything close to equal footing, Hickey will get the nod due to AHL experience and more dues having been paid.

Exciting times.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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9 replies

  1. Good analysis…I vote Muzzin.
    Think Hickey needs a little more seasoning..time to
    mature, settle down a bit
    He is flashy and exciting but being a D man needs to
    concentrate on his positioning etc.

  2. That was a great game last night, and I thought that both Muzzin and Hickey played well enough to give the coaches fits over who to keep and who to send down. I have a feeling they will continue to see minutes in the last two games, if the decision isn’t in fact already made on who to keep. If I’m the guy making the pick, I’m going with Muzzin based on the poise and determination that he showed last night. Hickey could just use a little more seasoning, and to get more to a place where he plays like he feels he belongs.

  3. We talk about these players making the team as if the lineup will be set in stone. No doubt there will be changes, call ups, send downs, players in the doghouse, and injuries (hope not) throughout the season. What we see on opening day is not what we will see at the end of the season.

    I think Muzzin has performed better but Hickey will get the nod. We’ll see.

    • Well duh :) But what fun are predictions when your prediction is that our predictions are meaningless!

      Reminds me of an old George Carlin bit, the hippy dippy weather man: “The weather will continue to change, on and off, for a long, long time.”

      • Our predictions are not meaningless, but they are also not indelible. I actually think Muzzin is more NHL ready than Hickey, but the later will get the nod for other reasons. If it fails (not that I want it to), things will change in terms of personnel shifts. Basically, I think it will all come out in the wash.

        The whole discussion shows that the Kings are in good position in terms of depth. Also, perhaps I am imagining things or even projecting, but this years’ team seems really tight in terms of cohesiveness and motivation. The culture of the organization is changing for the better, and it is really an exciting time to be a fan…

  4. I say the Kings can’t miss( I’m an optimist, sue me) with either player. When Green comes back, do the Kings want to pair him with an offensive defenseman or a physical defenseman. That’s where the priority will be. Whiskey made some bonehead plays, last game, but I still think he’ll get that 6th spot.

  5. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but on an unrelated note, did anyone hear that radio clip from Lombardi this morning? He basically says that greedy prick Kovalchuk and his agent dicked him around for a few months just to up the ante so he could get more money from the Devils. Basically it was all about the greedy pricks ego, wanting to match Ovechkin. It looks like DL eventually read into it that way, although he may be upset at himself because he didn’t see it that way sooner.

    The whole thing was bad theater. Say what you will, but when it comes to business acumen, DL is no dummy.

    • That poor horse. I am considering setting it on fire but I fear we may jump on its ashes. Seriously though, yes, I listened to it…in fact, I am listening to it right now (ha). Dean sounded over it. I am over it. NJ has bent itself over. They are the only team that won’t get over it anytime soon.


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